SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa Signs Up for Hopman Cup

Not since the days of Wayne Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer has South Africa been invited to contest the Hyundai Hopman Cup. However, that has now changed with the confirmation of Kevin Anderson and Chani Scheepers as part of the team event from 29 December to 5 January in Perth, Australia.

It will be the first time South Africa has contested the event since 2001.

Anderson, South Africa's number one men's player, said he was really looking forward to playing in the Hopman Cup with Scheepers. "The field is very strong this year, but I believe that we can do well together," he said.

"It's a fantastic event and it's also a good opportunity to help prepare for Sydney and the Australian Open."

Format

The Hopman Cup, which will be celebrating its 25th year, is an invitational team-based tournament that consists of eight national teams, made up of one male and one female player.

The teams are split into two groups of four, with each team playing the other three teams in their group. The two teams that finish top in their group play off in the final.

Each tie consists of a men's and women's singles match and a mixed doubles match. All matches are the best of three sets, except for the mixed doubles. If a mixed match is tied at one set all, a match tiebreak is played to decide the final set.

Excited

Scheepers, the first South African since Amanda Coetzer to be ranked in the top 50 of the women's singles rankings, was equally excited to be part of the season-opening tournament.

"I am very excited to represent South Africa at the Hopman Cup," she said in a statement. "It is a prestigious event with great tradition and I can't wait to be a part of it.

"I will have an opportunity to play three matches against the world's best players, which is a perfect way for me to prepare for the Australian Open.

"I am also lucky to have Kevin Anderson on my side, after he had another fantastic season on the ATP Tour."

Title win

Ferreira and Coetzer lifted the title for South Africa in 2000 after defeating Thailand in the final. They also reached the final in 1997 but, after splitting the singles matches with Americans Justin Gimelstob and Chanda Rubin, went down narrowly in an enthralling mixed doubles encounter.

The South Africans have been seeded sixth in the eight-team competition, with Serbia, – to be represented by men's world number one Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic, topping the seedings.

The USA, seeded second, will be represented by John Isner and Venus Williams. Third seeds Italy will feature Andreas Seppi and Francesca Schiavone , while Spain, seeded fourth, will field Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Tommy Haas and Andrea Petkovic of Germany are seeded fifth, Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Mathilde Johansson of France seventh, and Australians Bernard Tomic and Casey Dellacqua eighth.

Serbia, Italy Germany and Australia are in Group A with the USA, Spain, South Africa and France in Group B.

Venue

The tournament will be played for the first time at the brand new, state-of-the-art Perth Arena, which promises a whole new level of comfort for spectators.

Just one of the features of the new venue is climate controlled seating, ensuring patrons keep their cool during the hottest matches, even with the retractable roof open. Tennis fans will be able to enjoy watching the stars sweating it out on court from any of the 13 910 air-conditioned and cushioned stadium seats.

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